William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)
Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, hon. members of the house have learned with deep regret of the death of the Right Hon. Neville Chamberlain. It is fitting that I should place upon the records of this house some few words in honour of his memory.
Mr. Chamberlain left the scenes of his labours in circumstances made especially poignant by the sufferings of his closing days. Canada will not soon forget the fortitude with which he faced, and met, and endured, the
terrors and horrors of war; nor, in the preceding years, his long and earnest fight for peace -a peace which he once described as one which will enable mankind "to live their lives without fear, and to devote their energies and their gifts to the development of their culture, the pursuit of their ideals, and the improvement of their material prosperity."
With the permission of the house, I should like to repeat within these walls the substance of a public tribute I have already paid to his memory.
As the tragedy of Europe and the world began to unfold, Mr. Chamberlain as the Prime Minister of his country bore the greatest burden of all. He found himself the victim of conditions which he did not create, and of circumstances which he could not control. In a world rushing headlong to war, for which Britain was not prepared, peace had been placed in his keeping. From the compelling burdens of those conditions he did not flinch. He fought those circumstances with all the virtues of his race and, above all, with what has been called the greatest of all the virtues-unwavering patience. The judgment of time will determine the responsibility for the conditions and the circumstances which he inherited. It is no less certain that as those who follow us gaze in retrospect upon these tragic scenes, they will see in the late Prime Minister of Great Britain a forthright, fearless, honest. Christian gentleman, who laboured for peace because he loved his fellow men, and who led his country into war as the only means left to preserve their freedom.
When the testing time came at Munich in 1938, he, hating war. found himself opposed by men who were determined to wage it. Whatever may be the present opinion of the pact of Munich held lay some, at the time when it was made it was hailed with joy in Britain, in France, in Canada, in the United States, and also by the people in Italy and in Germany. In fact, the world sighed with profound relief as Mr. Chamberlain gave to the hearts of mankind a new lease of hope. To-day the memory of Munich has no doubt been embittered by the apparent failure to fulfil its promise. That was not the fault of Mr. Chamberlain.
Many men in public life have suffered, often undeservedly, from the fickleness of public opinion, and the forgetfulness of public gratitude; but few men have had the experience of these vicissitudes of fortune crowded more dramatically into so short a period of time. Mr. Chamberlain enjoyed prosperity in humility, and suffered adversity with silent dignity. He moved steadfastly towards peace, when peace was possible. He did not flinch
Right Hon. Neville Chamberlain
from war, when war was inevitable. He bore praise with modesty, and censure without complaint.
History will, I believe, pay his memory these tributes. His passion for peace and his patient search for it gave to the cause of Britain a moral strength in the eyes of the world, invaluable in a struggle between good and evil.
The temporary peace which his patience gained, gave mankind a year free from the horrors of war, unmasked the true character of the new tyranny, and strengthened the preparations of free nations to meet the threat to the Christian civilization which they cherished.
In the midst of danger, discouragement and defeat, Mr. Chamberlain never despaired of his country or of her great cause in the world of men. Canada, to-day, joins with the other nations of the British commonwealth in honouring a faithful servant of humanity.